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President Zuma to address public spat between ANC, DIRCO and DA over Msimanga's Taiwan visit

Jan 4, 2017
President Zuma to address public spat between ANC, DIRCO and DA over Msimanga's Taiwan visit

The Presidency says it has noted the ongoing debate on the 'treasonous' visit to Taiwan by the Executive Mayor of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, Councillor Solly Msimanga, and Presiddent Jacob Zuma will address issue when he convenes the President's Coordinating Council - a statutory forum in which the President of the Republic meets the leadership of provincial and local government.

This follows a public spat between the African National Congress (ANC) Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), which says the trip was in breach of South Africa's foreign policy, on one said and Msimanga's party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

DIRCO on Monday said it was made aware of the visit and advised Mayor Msimanga not to undertake the visit as it would constitute a breach of the One China Policy.

“In a move that is highly regrettable, Mayor Msimanga disregarded DIRCO's advice and proceeded with the visit.

“Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by South Africa and the United Nations. South Africa maintains a Liaison office in Taipei as does the Taiwanese in Pretoria.

“The Liaison Office does not enjoy the status of an Embassy.  The Liaison offices arrangement was agreed upon to facilitate people to people contact. It has no political mandate and therefore interaction between political office bearers is not allowed.” 

The department said Section 84 (2) (h) (i) of the Constitution enjoins the President of the Republic with the powers and responsibilities to conduct South Africa's foreign relations.

The department said representatives of any sphere of government must ensure that their engagements with international entities are aligned to existing mechanism and programmed and that such relations are coordinated in a manner that advances South Africa's foreign policy and national interests.

“Our bilateral relations with China are facilitated and guided broadly through the Beijing Declaration Establishing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership; the Bi-National Commission; the Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Cooperation (JWG); the Strategic Dialogue Mechanism; and the 5-10 Year Strategic Framework on Cooperation signed in 2014, which serves as an overall implementation plan with respect to all existing agreements and frameworks.”

DIRCO implements South Africa’s foreign relations, in consultation with the Presidency and other government departments.

It said Cabinet has in the past decided that representatives of government across all three spheres coordinate all their foreign engagements with DIRCO so as to ensure synergy and maintain a cohesive approach in dealing with any international entity or government.

“South Africa enjoys strong and mutual diplomatic and trade relations with the People's Republic of China.

“The two countries share membership of, and participate as partners on numerous international bodies, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS), the BASIC Group on Climate Change (Brazil, India and China), the Group of 77 + China and the G20.

“South Africa and China are also Co-Chairs of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).”

China is South Africa's biggest trading partner and is also the second biggest economy in the world.

DA hits back at ANC and DIRCO

However, the DA hit back saying that the ANC was being hypocritical about the matter.

"The ANC has shown yet again just how little it values job-creating investment in South Africa with its petty, hypocritical attack on the Mayor of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga, following his visit to Taipei in Taiwan.

"With 9 million jobless South Africans, the DA praises the attempt by Mayor Msimanga to encourage investment in South Africa. This is what our country needs to create jobs and fight poverty," said Stevens Mokgalapa, the DA's Shadow Minioster of International Relations and Cooperation.

"This simply isn’t a priority for the ANC – they are a party of cronyism, fighting to protect corrupt interests. The people of Tshwane, like the rest of South Africa, come stone last.

"The reality is that their baseless attacks stem from their unwillingness to accept that they have lost control of many municipalities across South Africa."

Mokgalapa reminded the ANC that "neither the ANC nor the national government it runs can dictate who DA Mayors meet with in order to obtain job-creating investment, and that such international trips are allowed".

"Indeed, the former ANC Mayor of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, embarked on international trips to encourage growth – including a 12-day business trip to the United States.

"The ANC should also be duly reminded – so as to end their glaring hypocrisy – that South Africa maintains relations with Taiwan through the South African Liaison Office in Taiwan," he added.

"That the party of national government chooses to ignore this in order to score cheap political points, demonstrates precisely why our country’s foreign policy is such a mess, no longer based on Madiba’s six pillars and most importantly, human rights."

The DA's Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Dean Macpherson, also said that on tuesday, he wrote to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, asking him to recommit to continuing to build trade and investment relations with Taiwan and "to dismiss the ANC and DIRCO’s reckless and hypocritical statements about Tshwane Executive Mayor, Solly Msimanga’s recent trip to Taiwan".

"These statements included accusations that Mayor Msimanga had committed ‘treason’, violated the ‘constitution’ and that the visit had breached the ‘One China Policy’ that South Africa currently recognises," said Macpherson.

"It has been revealed that in 2014, the department of Trade and Industry undertook an Outward Selling and Investment Mission (OSIM) to Taiwan with 18 business people, all paid for by the Department at a cost of R400 000.00, excluding the cost of senior DTI officials. In a DTI statement, Minister Davies is quoted as saying the mission would lead to “increased export orders, and more production output and the resultant additional job opportunities for South Africa”.

"The DA believes the Minister was right to endorse this mission because Taiwan is South Africa’s second largest Asian investor with R14 billion worth of investments and trade between the two countries totalling R22 billion, with a trade balance of nearly R4 billion in South Africa’s favour according to 2013 statistics."

Macpherson said that "it is therefore highly hypocritical of the ANC and DIRCO to suggest that Mayor Msimanga’s actions, aimed at attracting trade and investment into Tshwane to deal with the high levels of unemployment, as anything but complimentary to what Minister Davies is trying to achieve.

"It is laughable to suggest that Mayor Msimanga breached the ‘One China Policy’ by going to Taiwan but our own government department did not by undertaking the same trip two years earlier.

"I therefore call on Minister Davies to endorse the work of Mayor Msimanga to attract trade and investment to Tshwane, to reject the ANC and DIRCO’s ludicrous accusations and continue to push for increased trade and investment between Taiwan and South Africa in order to deal with the devastating crisis of unemployment in our country."

- additional reporting SAnews.gov.za